We know play is a vital aspect to a child’s development, but according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in five children live within walking distance of a playground or park. This translates to approximately 15 million kids that do not have the opportunity to get out and safely play on a regular basis. Keeping our bodies physically active throughout our lives can help prevent such health issues as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Exposure to fun ways of play at a young age will help instill the importance of being active and motivate our children to incorporate exercise into their daily lives not only in their youth, but also in their adulthood. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative supports programs that expose and educate children and their families to the benefits of staying active and actually gets them moving. KaBOOM! is one of our key partners in motivating children across our five states to increase their physical activity through play.
With the help of KaBOOM! , a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children, we select a community partner to build a safe playground where none existed before. The entire community is involved in this process, and hundreds of our own employees volunteer annually to assist in building a playground in one day. This not only increases exposure and access to play within a community, but also creates a sense of pride and satisfaction, as the entire community is involved and responsible for maintaining the playground after it is built. It’s amazing to see a community transform after KaBOOM! gets involved, and we are thrilled to be part of the process.
Throughout 2014, we partnered with KaBOOM! to build eight new playgrounds across our states. In addition, we provided five shade structures to expand access to play during hot summer months, while providing skin care protection. Imagination Playgrounds were also granted to four community partners to allow for access to indoor play for children who participate in their programs. Rigamajigs were provided to three additional partners, which consist of larger-scale building kits for hands-on and creative play. Together, these projects will provide safe play spaces for more than 73,000 children annually throughout our five states.
We’ve worked with KaBOOM! to build a total of 47 playgrounds over the last six years. Through these activities and our partnership with KaBOOM!, more than 164,000 children are served annually. Further strengthening our commitment to increase the level of physical activity within our communities, in 2014 we expanded our KaBOOM! partnership to include our newest Blue Plan state of Montana.